Awesome mesh tool

EnRoute has many cool tools that can be used individually or together with other tools to create anything I can imagine – and that’s a lot. Last week I was building some faux hydraulic cylinders for a display and the mesh tool proved to be the simplest and quickest way to get exactly what I needed in a hurry.

The cylinders are a small part of the MultiCam display for their booth to be held at the International Sign Association trade show in Las Vegas next month. This is the TV stand which I will use for my presentation.

I started with hand drawn artwork as per my usual. This artwork defined the basic look of the finished piece but did not lock down every detail. We always get better ideas as we proceed.

The original thought was to fasten the vertical piece to the backdrop the client would provide but as I set about beginning the build we decided to include a horizontal base so it would stand on its own. To make it a little sturdier some angle braces on the bottom were in order but they couldn’t merely look like angle braces. We decided to camouflage then as hydraulic cylinders in true steampunk style. For an extra bit of fun I added Kris Co embossed into the cylinders – a nod to my friend Kris Hanchette, president and general manager of MultiCam.

All of the necessary vectors were drawn in EnRoute with the drawing tools including the rectangle around the piece.

The first step was to use the rectangle to create a zero height relief.

 I then selected this relief before opening the mesh creation tool. In this fashion the mesh tool is used to modify the relief rather than creating a mesh shape alone. The menu takes you through the procedure easily.

In a few clicks I had my cylinder shape. The next step was to add the flat flange which would protrude out of the bottom of the cylinder.  I would build it as a separate relief.

This separate relief is then merged highest with the base relief.

I now had half of a cylinder. I duplicated it and then created the lettering we would emboss into each side. I duplicated the lettering vectors before flipping one 90 degrees (so they would read the same way no matter which side you read) 
I positioned these letter vectors on the cylinders.
Then I modified the reliefs by subtracting from the reliefs using the lettering as a mask.
I made two copies of each side because we needed two cylinders. then I sent the files to the MultiCam to be routed from 2″ thick 30 lb Precision Board. They were fitted over the 1″ pipe braces. Other smaller pieces were fit around the end flanges to build convincing attachment points in mere minutes.

Then I fitted on all of the PVC conduits with custom routed brackets. Some domed rivets were also routed and then glued onto the back board. It looks very industrial and steampunk in a hurry. The paint will add a lot  in the next days.

Two of the three pieces are nearing completion. Stay tuned to see the finished results.

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Rapid Texture

Rapid Texture is another unique feature of EnRoute software. With this function you can cover a whole lot more surface in a hurry and achieve some very cool surface and textures. It uses the tool shape to create the texture.  I have primarily used it to create wainscoting for the MultiCam office and  in our new house. The effects and possibilities are truly limitless.

To best show the technique I’ve decided to go to the video that is on the EnRoute website They have some great tutorial videos there.

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Parametric Textures

There are a number of ways to create textures in EnRoute. One of the methods offer unlimited possibilities. This is called Parametric TEXTURES. They are created by mathematical equations and go in all directions infinitely. No tiling necessary here.

The first step is to create a relief. Select it to light up the box we want.

Then open the parametric texture box officially called BasicNoise Texture. If you hold your mouse on the button you will see an array of options. Select the texture you like.

For the next example I picked the brick texture. If you click on the template window there are a bunch more options. To the right of the window are the parametric options. Adjusting these numbers will adjust the texture. The preview window makes it easy to see what you will get. 

The possibilities are literally limitless. If you get a texture you really like you can save it as a strategy, ready to call up again when you need it.


Here’s one called tree bark. I did it three times and adjusted the numbers slightly each time.

Here’s a weave with different settings.



 The possibilities are truly endless.

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There are often a number of ways to accomplish any given task in EnRoute, sometimes with subtle differences in the results. To be an accomplished user of the software we need to become familiar with as many as possible and then use the one that suits us best.

Today I wanted to show how I like to use the ‘LIMIT TO HEIGHT’ function. As with all of the lessons so far I first drew a square vector to create the base relief. Then I used the star maker. It is simple to use. I input 5 for the number of points and then created the vector.

I selected the square vector and opened the create a relief menu. I then selected the bevel tool and the create or add to button. Then I selected the LIMIT TO HEIGHT button. I entered two values into the boxes…  the base height (vertical measurement)  and the overall height that the relief would be limited to. The angle of the bevel was set to 45 degrees

The result was a 45 degree bevel around the outside.

I then selected the square relief and modified it with the star vector. I used the same settings for this example.

 As always it is important to check in multiple views to make sure the result is what you expected.

Stay tuned for more cool things in the next posts.   -dan

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Creating shaped letters

This lesson is on creating shaped letters and by that I mean letters with a dome or bevel top. If the strokes of the letter are relatively even and the angle of the bevel or dome is shallow how you use the shaping tools is not as critical but for many lettering styles it matters a great deal.

I started with a square shape and a letter ‘a’ once more. Then I selected the square and created a flat relief that was 0.3″ thick.

Then I selected the box and the letter ‘a’ vector and used the bevel tool to modify the base relief by adding the beveled letter. I used a base of 0.2″ (this means the sides of the letter are 0.2″ tall before the bevel starts.) I used a little steer angle than I usually would have because it shows the things I want to better than if I had used a shallower angle. In the top view it looks pretty good at first glance but if you look close (red arrows) you can see that where the thin strokes join up with the thick ones it is not quite right.

The perspective view doesn’t show much from this angle and the letter actually looks pretty good.
The side view of the letter does not offer much information unless you really know what you are looking for. The ridge of the tail in the ‘a’ slopes down some.

The front view shows how things are looking much clearer. Notice the there red arrows. Notice that where the strokes of the letter are wider the crown of the letters is much higher and where they are thinner the crown of the letter is much lower. This is not correct but there is an easy fix.

So a little different approach is needed. I backed things up until we had the flat relief once more, then selected both the flat relief and the ‘a’ vectors. This time I selected CONSTANT HEIGHT instead of NORMAL, then added in a height of 0’2″. I did not change the value of the base. This means that the letter will still rise 0.2″ vertically before we begin the bevel top. Notice that the angle of the bevel is not active. This angle is instead determined by the height value and varies depending on the width of the letter or shape. I then hit apply.

When I render it the result is quite different from the first try but does not look that different in the top view. at first glance. On close inspection (red arrows) you can see the thin strokes now meet the thick strokes at the crown of the letters.

In the front and side views the changes are much more evident. Notice how the crowns of the letters are now all the same height and the angles vary according the the width of the stroke of the letter.

The same principles apply to sing the done tools to create letters. I first used normal mode to modify the relief. It shows the same faults as the bevel tool.

So I backed things up and tried again using the constant height. Like the bevel it loos much better this time around.


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